3 Min Read
* Dalian iron ore dropped by 8 pct downside limit at one point
* Rebar, coking coal futures fall about 4 pct
By Manolo Serapio Jr
MANILA, May 4 (Reuters) - Chinese iron ore futures tumbled more than 7 percent on Thursday, their biggest single-day fall in more than five months, on concerns that demand for the raw material was at risk from slower steel consumption.
The drop came as futures for rebar steel and steelmaking raw material coking coal fell nearly 4 percent.
China's crude steel production reached a record 72 million tonnes in March and there were indications that output remained high through the first 20 days of April, said Wang Di, analyst from CRU consultancy in Beijing.
As steel prices dropped last month, though, some Chinese mills pushed forward their maintenance schedules to somehow manage output, said Di.
The most-active rebar on the Shanghai Futures Exchange was down 3.9 percent at 3,002 yuan ($435) a tonne by midday, after falling as much as 4.6 percent earlier.
Iron ore on the Dalian Commodity Exchange was last down 7.6 percent at 487 yuan per tonne, on track for its biggest daily drop since Nov. 16.
The iron ore contract earlier slid by its 8 percent exchange-set floor to 485 yuan, its weakest since April 20.
"We are bearish," said Di on her outlook for iron ore prices. Demand this month "could be even worse than now or compared to end-April," she said.
Iron ore shipments to China from Australia's Port Hedland terminal, used by top miners BHP Billiton and Fortescue Metals Group, rose to 34.86 million tonnes in April from 31.5 million tonnes in the previous month, port data showed on Wednesday.
Inventory of imported iron ore at China's major ports reached 130.55 million tonnes as of April 28, up 950,000 tonnes from the previous week, SteelHome said. The stockpiles hit 132.45 million tonnes in March, the most since SteelHome began tracking it in 2004. SH-TOT-IRONINV
Thursday's plunge in futures could drag down spot iron ore prices again after they had stabilised in the past two days.
Iron ore for delivery to China's Qingdao port .IO62-CNO=MB was little changed at $68.68 a tonne on Wednesday, according to Metal Bulletin.
Coking coal futures on the Dalian exchange fell 3.8 percent to 1,071.50 yuan a tonne. Coke dropped 4.1 percent to 1,524 yuan.
$1 = 6.8958 Chinese yuan Reporting by Manolo Serapio Jr.; Editing by Tom Hogue